The war on Russian writers against the war on Ukraine

A blurry Leonid Parfenov at an event in London in 2011

Next week will see the launch of collaborative work to bring some of the UL’s Ukrainian material together into a pop-up exhibition.  This week, we will focus briefly again on the effect Russia’s war on Ukraine is having on its own country, this time through the prism of the leaked list of authors that the Moscow Dom Knigi bookshop network have apparently banned their staff from putting on display (a full ban is thankfully not in place); an article in Russian about this can be found here.  The ban largely relates to the authors’ appearance on the list of ‘foreign agents’ (inoagenty) this blog has mentioned before, which ultimately boils down to their stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The list of authors is below, with comments about what our readers can find in Cambridge University libraries.

  • Boris Akunin
  • Natalʹi︠a︡ Baranova
    • a journalist and activist, known best for her leadership of Teplitsa. Technologies for Social Good, “an independent and capacity building project with a mission to strengthen a Russian non-government sector (NGO) with information technologies.” (from the Teplitsa site, where you can also read articles by her (in Russian); she hasn’t published any books)
  • Dmitriĭ Bykov
  • Viktor Vakhshtaĭn
    • sociologist; we have three books he has contributed to
  • Dmitriĭ Glukhovskiĭ
    • chiefly known for his science fiction; we have several books by him, chiefly in Russian but including a few translations via Electronic Legal Deposit
  • Mikhail Zygarʹ
  • Vladimir Kara-Murza
    • political activist and Cambridge graduate who has been in prison in Russia since April; we have his 2011 book about the 1st Russian State Duma and MMLL have his documentary films They chose freedom and Nemtsov
  • Andreĭ Makarevich
    • musician and lead singer of the group Mashina Vrememi; we have two books written solely by him and two he has contributed to (see here)
  • Aleksandr Nevzorov
  • Leonid Parfenov
    • journalist and presenter of popular TV programmes about Russian and Soviet history; we mainly hold the books that have come out of those programmes, including the decade-by-decade Namedni programmes/books
  • Sergeĭ Parkhomenko
    • journalist and publisher; we have many books published by the firms he has at various points led, such as Azbuka-Attikus, but Parkhomenko has never published a book written by him himself.
  • Alekseĭ Poli︠a︡rinov
  • Evgeniĭ Ponasenkov
  • Li︠u︡dmila Ulit︠s︡kai︠a︡
  • Ekaterina Shulʹman
    • political scientist, whose book Prakticheskai︠a︡ politilogii︠a︡ we hope to acquire soon

The list contains several of Russia’s bestselling authors, so a changeover to remove their works from window and table displays will surely have taken time.  In 2011, I had the great happiness of meeting and hearing some of these authors at the London Book Fair, where Russia was the country of focus that year.  How much has changed since then – and how much some things changed very quickly.  Another author I met, Zakhar Prilepin, then a clever and witty writer with what seemed to be rather performative political ‘bad boy’ connections with the National Bolshevik Movement, would go on in 2017-18 to help lead a Russian militia battalion which fought, very bloodily (to his appalling pride), in occupied Ukraine.  And yet, of course, it is not Prilepin’s books that are being hidden from view in Putin’s Russia.

Mel Bach

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